The IMO Member State Audit Scheme is intended to provide an audited Member State with a comprehensive and objective assessment of how effectively it administers and implements those mandatory IMO instruments which are covered by the Scheme.
The MSC in May 2014 completed the legal framework for the implementation of the mandatory IMO audit scheme, with the adoption of amendments to the following treaties to make mandatory the use of the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) and auditing of Parties to those treaties:
- SOLAS, 1974, as amended (adding a new chapter XIII)
- the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, and the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code
- the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (1988 Load Lines Protocol), as amended.
This follows the adoption, by the IMO Assembly at its twenty-eighth session, of similar amendments to:
- the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, as amended (COLREG 1972), the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (LL 1966)
- the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 (TONNAGE 1969), (following the procedures for adoption of amendments for the COLREG 1972, LL 1966 and Tonnage 1969 conventions).
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), at its 66th session, in April 2014, adopted similar amendments to MARPOL Annexes I through to VI.
The amendments will make the auditing of Member States mandatory, once they enter into force in 2016.
It is reasonably expected that the audit scheme will bring about many benefits, such as identifying where capacity-building activities (for example, the provision of technical assistance by IMO to Member States) would have the greatest effect. Targeting of appropriate action to improve performance would be greatly improved. The Member States themselves would receive valuable feedback, intended to assist them in improving their own capacity to put the applicable instruments into practice; and generic lessons learnt from audits could be provided to all Member States so that the benefits could be widely shared.
Moreover, the results of the audits could be systematically fed back into the regulatory process at IMO to help make measurable improvements in the effectiveness of the international regulatory framework of shipping.
The scheme addresses issues such as conformance in enacting appropriate legislation for the IMO instruments to which a Member State is a Party; the implementation and enforcement of the applicable laws and regulations by the Member State; the delegation of authority to recognized organizations (ROs); the related control and monitoring mechanism of the survey and certification processes by the Member States.
- Information Resources on the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme
- Making a case for the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme. Paper delivered at a seminar on: "Auditing Flag States: New Directions for Smaller Maritime States". Malmo, World Maritime University, October 17-19, 2005. Article by Mr. L. D. Barchue, Sr. This paper will look at some of the contemporary issues associated with the regulatory and enforcement paradigm of international shipping and will broach the concept of principal actors in the shipping industry, their roles and the issue of accountability, which may have precipitated the need for the development of an audit regime for maritime administrations. It would also discuss one of the principles of the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme, which has often been used by governments to protect their interests, but can now be averred as one of the pillars that would encourage Member States to volunteer for audits. The positive impact of a successful Audit Scheme could have on the implementation and enforcement of shipping regulations would be highlighted.